Challenge of getting South Sudan’s former child soldiers back to school

More than 200 child soldiers, all under 18, have been freed from armed groups in South Sudan. The children were part of a civil war that broke out in the Republic of South Sudan two years after it was granted independence from Sudan. The ongoing conflict has ripped the country apart, making the living conditions for most South Sudanese worse than ever before.

About 19 000 child soldiers are thought to be part of the conflict and so the release of any is great news. But it’s not guaranteed that they will reintegrate successfully.

Education isn’t accessible to most children in South Sudan. In 2016 only 50% of children aged 6-13 were enrolled in primary education and just 3.5% aged 14-17 were enrolled in secondary education. There are challenges in finding a school and being able to afford to go to one. This is even harder for demobilized child soldiers who are often traumatized and stigmatized.

A recent report states that there have been 293 military attacks on schools, affecting over 90,000 children. Due to this security concern, education isn’t readily available in many home communities and so shortly after the former child soldiers are reunited with their families, they leave.

The children will also have to pay for school. Even though most of the schools are meant to be government funded, teachers are often not paid and so the students pay fees to give the teachers a little income. But with few resources and no support system, the children struggle to do this and run the risk of not attending or not having teachers.

[Read full News24 article]

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